My scooter recently had a wing mirror broken and I started thinking. Is it legal to have just one wing mirror or come to that any mirrors at all. My mates all disagree and we cannot find an answer that all agree with! The closest I have got to what seems right is that it would be a MOT failure if it did not have mirrors. What is the position please?
Anon, Llantwit Major
The answer to this question can be found in the ever helpful piece of legislation - The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986. This contains many interesting rules relating to vehicle use on the road, what is allowed and what isn’t.
In short, there is no legal requirement to have mirrors on a motorcycle.
So you are not breaking the law if you have one mirror or two or none at all. However, as a motorcyclist you need to be fully aware of traffic around you at all times so it is highly advisable to have two mirrors.
A former motorcycle policeman acquaintance told me he used to drive behind bikes without mirrors and wait for them to contravene a traffic law and then book them! The bike behind is invisible. A safety issue with having no mirrors is that to undertake effective rear observations you need to turn your upper body and head. This bodily movement can shift weight and in inexperienced hands can lead to the motorcycle veering and sometimes loss of control.
It is clear that from a safety perspective one should have and use mirrors and keep them maintained and clear. Therefore if you have an old bike it is a good idea to have them properly fitted and if they are in place don’t remove them. Always replace cracked or broken glass. If you have mirrors then to pass a MOT they must be in serviceable condition and work correctly.
If you were to be involved in an accident and didn’t have wing mirrors and a court decided that played a material part in the accident then even though it is not a legal requirement I can see your opponent arguing that the accident was partly your fault. I am not aware that this has ever been tested in court but can easily imagine it being argued. A bit like if your tyres were below the legal tread threshold if this played a part in the accident although clearly that would be a stronger argument for your opponent.
My view is that anything that increases safety and reduces death and bodily injury on the roads is a good thing so use mirrors, wear hi-visibility clothing, use headlights and use common sense to keep safe.